Man and His Culture
Shows, in the imaginative form of a 'REPORT FROM OUTER SPACE,' how the ways of mankind might appear to visitors from another planet. Considers the things most cultures have in common and the ways they change as they pass from one generation to the next.
Subject: About Robert Redfield
Subject: People of Earth
Subject: We are The World
Subject: Anthropology, c. 1954
The film tries a little too hard to be an outside observer (a common conceit in anthropology before the 1970s) by using the motif of an observer from space. However, the basic information does still hold true, though it does hint at social Darwinism at times. Most notable changes in the anthropolgical thought since this film was made are the concept of the single path of development and the simple dicohetmy of "primitive" and "advanced" cultures, both of which have successfully challanged by anti-Orientialist and diaspora scholars, such as Edward Said.
The irony of this film is while its basic tenant is introducing the study of cultures in general, it in fact provides a good time capsule of American culture of the time. Women are allowed to work outside of the home, but are not allowed to have children out of wedlock. European (and by extension American) culture is the dominant (and best) force in the world. In both these cases, these subtexts promoted by this film are in themselves cultural artifacts and underscore the importance of preserving films like this for the future.